2011/12 Premier League Goalkeeper Preview: Chelsea

Chelsea

Petr Cech

1st Team Squad Goalkeepers: Petr Cech, Henrique Hilario, Ross Turnbull, Rhys Taylor, Matej Delac. Thibault Courtois.

Overview: He’ll be hoping he doesn’t need to use it too often, but Andre Villas-Boas starts his tenure at Chelsea with the strongest goalkeeping roster of all the Premier League teams. Last season Cech showed signs of returning to his very best. In the second half of the season he made a few mistakes, but in the first half of the season his stunning performances compensated for the deficiencies in the Chelsea defence. The Blues started the season like a steam train, but recorded convincing wins only after Cech had intervened to make important saves that would have had a serious impact on the course of those games. He continued to make important contributions, but it was a boy with his finger in the dyke situation and before too long not even his best efforts could stop the Chelsea challenge from enduring a spectacular slump. More than his shot-stopping, there was a real confidence to Cech in the air. Since sustaining that horrific injury to his skull, he seemed uncomfortable with situations in which he was likely to meet physical contact, but last term he looked to be back to his commanding best. With his confidence restored, he took charge of his penalty area and looked like the goalkeeper we know he can be. Behind check in the pecking order are Hilario and Turnbull. Hilario appears to be the type of affable character who won’t get to upset about being a substitute – he’s had plenty of time to get used to it – but Turnbull can’t be happy with how his career has gone. True, he’s played one more Champions League game than he was ever likely to achieve with Middlesbrough, but his chances of displacing Cech look slimmer than ever. He may have had the self-confidence to think he could claim the number one spot for himself, but in reality he has spent two crucial years in his development on the bench and you’d have to wonder if when he gets his chance in a first team somewhere, will he be able to pick up where he left off at the Riverside in 2009. The signing of Thibualt Courtois doesn’t help his cause either. The young Belgian had such an impressive breakthrough season at Genk, Chelsea paid around £7 million for his services. He’s very good and considered the eventual successor to Cech, but the example of Turnbull should serve as a warning to him and he should look to go out on loan for a year or two. Despite being young keepers of some potential, Rhys Taylor and Matej Delac will now question their futures at the club. They’ve been out on loan for large spells since arriving at the Bridge have now been pushed a further rung or two down the ladder.

Worst case scenario: Cech’s improvements from last season prove short-lived and he returns to being the cautious keeper of recent years. With Courtois out on loan, Chelsea are forced to use a combination of Hilario and Turnbull, which isn’t quite up to the requirements of a team looking to win major silverware.

Most likely outcome: Cech will continue to perform strongly and the back-ups will only occasionally get a run-out.

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